“I have frequently wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong.”
–H.P. Lovecraft, Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game is full of cultists, monsters, portals to other worlds, dark tomes, and unfathomable terrors. As players contest the game’s stories – confronting madness and risking death in order to plumb ancient secrets – they may uncover dreadful Ancient Ones like Y’Golonac ( Core Set , 122) or Cthulhu ( Core Set , 41), but some of the game’s greatest secrets… and its most horrifying truths… may never enter play. Instead, some of the cards that most fully influence each player’s actions within the game will remain buried deep within their domains.
Today, we get to take a closer look at those dark secrets, led by our guide, guest writer David Boeren, an expert player and the individual responsible for three of the deck lists included in the rules inserts from The Key and the Gate and Denizens of the Underworld .
Guest Writer David Boeren on Resourcing Your Domains
Making good resourcing decisions is an important, but often overlooked, skill in Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game . It's not easy to learn how to make these decisions. In fact, it’s one that really should be difficult; if you feel like you usually have easy or obvious choices, it’s likely a sign that your deck has some slack cards in it. In fact, you can often distinguish a purely casual deck from a tuned-up one just by seeing how difficult your resourcing decisions are. A good deck should make you agonize each turn over which card you’ll give up because all your cards will feel useful.
Still, for all its importance, resourcing isn't often discussed. It's less exciting than exploring new card combos and deck designs. This is unfortunate because resourcing is one of the most central parts of the game, and poor resourcing choices can put you significantly behind in your games. In fact, it's often difficult for beginners to even realize when they’re making critical mistakes while resourcing.
Consequently, when I teach Call of Cthulhu to new players, we perform a post-mortem examination of their domains after our games are over, and we talk about whether they resourced cards into their domains that could have helped them out at different stages of the game.
Why do we know these domains have been poorly resourced? Click here to read the analysis.
I could try to teach players by looking at each of their cards as they resource them, but I find this to be disruptive; players don't really like having everything they do second-guessed, and early in the game they won't really understand the larger purpose. Thus, I find it better to leave our examinations until after players have gained a little firmer grasp of the rules and the back-and-forth feel of competing at stories.
Today, as we start to get a better idea of the resourcing choices players have to make throughout each game and how to make them, let’s look at the beginning of an actual game.
Resourcing Domains During Gameplay
This sample game reveals the choices I had to make during a game with a Silver Twilight and Syndicate deck that I’ve been playing, lately. It’s not really a rush deck, but it’s reasonably fast and has no cards that cost more than three resources. The balance between the two factions is pretty even, so I expect to draw roughly equal amounts of both factions.
Out of the eight cards that I draw into my opening hand, three are going to become my initial resources.
This opening draw is a bit of a mixed bag. In this example game, I am the first player, so I only draw one card on my first turn. I'm happy to have lots of low cost characters to choose from. With Johnny V's Dame, I could play two two-cost characters on turn one, and I could even get out Lena Di Boerio as a third character if I wanted.
This is good because it’s particularly important to have some low cost characters at the start of the game. Characters that cost one or two resources can be played on your first turn, and if you don't have any of these, your opponent might grab unopposed tokens at multiple stories, putting you behind the gun from the start of the game.
Still, I'm less happy that I only have one Silver Twilight card, making mine a very uneven draw. If I resource Meticulous Scribe, then I can’t play three Syndicate characters unless I resource another Syndicate card, and, of course, I have no other Silver Twilight card to play off of his domain.
A single faction deck usually has an easier time with initial resourcing, but I find that gaining access to twice as many cards for your deck is well worth some slightly harder decisions.
Meanwhile, I realize that if I keep my hand, what I can do is play Eldritch Nexus and maybe get a Silver Twilight domain that way…
David's opening hand doesn't fully represent the deck's balance of its two primary factions, Syndicate and Silver Twilight, but it contains a strong mix of inexpensive characters and useful events, including Eldritch Nexus.
Should I mulligan?
I believe I’ll be fine as long as I have a two-color domain before my Operations Phase. This means I can start with three Syndicate cards, draw, and then resource the Meticulous Scribe. I like the idea of bursting out of the gate, but the three characters I could play aren't all that great immediately. Two of them have “pay 1” abilities that I won't be able to trigger if all my domains are spent. I'd also prefer to have some Investigation and Arcane in play, but I’d at least have some Combat for defense.
However, the hand also shows me that my second turn should be looking fairly rosy as I'll have a fourth domain to pay for Lena Di Boerio and my Torch Singer. I could even get Peter Clover out early if I really wanted his Investigation icon. Also, my hand’s faction imbalance should sort itself out fairly quickly as my deck now has a greater percentage of Silver Twilight cards left in it, and I do have what looks like a solid plan.
Ultimately, I decide to stick it out and go with the fast start this hand provides, then hope I'll draw a Silver Twilight card.
This brings me to the question: Which three cards do I resource? As I said above, if your deck is good, this should be a tough decision, and it really is.
Typically your easiest choices for early domains include:
Most decks also have certain “key cards” that are important to your larger strategy. Typically, a deck will include three copies of any of these cards, so having to resource a higher cost “key” card in order to get through the opening turns isn't always a big problem. Later in the game, on the other hand, you won’t want to give one up one of these unless it's a unique card of which you already have a copy in your hand or in play. If you designed your deck, you’ll know which cards are central to your designs and which are most vital. Even if you’ve downloaded a deck that someone else has put together, it should become apparent very early which cards are most important.
As nice as he is, then, Peter Clover has to go. He's pricey, and his ability is really stronger later in the game, when my opponent has high-cost cards on the table. For the other two domains, I decide to resource my two events because I have plans for everything else.
At the start of the game, then, I have three domains, each with a single Syndicate resource: Peter Clover, Intimidate, and On the Lam.
We’ll continue with David’s exploration of resourcing in the second part “The Resourceful Investigator.” Until then, remember: If your resource decisions are driving you to madness, that’s a good thing!
Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.